, December 07, 2021

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Will Lewis Hamilton be fast enough to catch up with Max Verstappen ?


  •   3 min reads
Will Lewis Hamilton be fast enough to catch up with Max Verstappen ?

All eyes are on British race driver Lewis Hamilton and his Dutch rival Max Verstappen as they rush to the finish line. Both drivers have been neck and neck since the start of the Formula One World Championship last March during the Bahrain Grand Prix. The competition’s latest race in Mexico City – on November 7th – gave Verstappen the lead with a 19 point advance over Hamilton. But don’t place your bets just yet, the outcome is still to be decided.

Head-to-head since the beginning of the season

Since the season’s take off, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen’s fierce rivalry has stolen the show, both drivers alternating between first and second place victories for most of the competition.

Running for the Mercedes’ team, Hamilton won this year’s Bahrain, Portuguese, Spanish, English and Russian Grand Prix, leaving him with 293.5 points – only 19 points behind the current number one racer : Max Verstappen. Leading for Red Bull’s team with 312.5 points, Verstappen took over the Grand Prix podiums in Italy, Monaco, France, Austria, Belgium, Netherlands, United-States and Mexico.

As a reminder, here below is a chart to understand how the point system works in F1 racing:

Formula One racing point system

The team rankings however are slightly different after recent events in which Red Bull Racing recovered in a short amount of time the few 100 points separating them from rival Mercedes team. Mercedes (Hamilton’s team) is now leading the tight championship with 478.5 points, whilst Red Bull Racing (Verstappen’s team) is very slightly behind, advocating 477.5 points.

Hamilton-Verstappen, an escalating conflict

More than the biggest rivalry of the season – one to be engraved in history – Lewis Hamilton has long denounced Max Verstappen’s aggressivity on the circuits, not unlike Niki Lauda and James Hunt’s rivalry in the 1973-1979 racing circuits.

Max is a no-quarter kind of guy; Lewis has demonstrated that he doesn’t want to give anything either and when you get two racers of that mentality, you get incidents,” said Red Bull’s Christian Horner to The Guardian.

Flipping the finger to one another and showing strong combative behaviour, one particular moment of the season shocked all: the impressive crash between both drivers during the Italian Grand Prix Monza’s Circuit, on the 12th of September. This collision – the second one after Silverstone – sent both drivers out of track with Verstappen’s red car ending on top of Hamilton’s Mercedes. This time Verstappen was in the wrong and received a penalty handing him a three-place grid for the next race in Russia.

The accident could have been must worse. After the race, Hamilton told Sky reporters that he was “very, very fortunate” to walk away from the crash before adding:

Thank God for the halo which saved me, and saved my neck.

Verstappen was accused of showing little concern for his opponent after the accident – though the same was said of Hamilton after the previous crash – and given that both are determined, uncompromising racers, an on-track clash is seriously feared.

In need of a miraculous comeback

First on the temporary podium after managing to snatch first place on the most symbolically important race tracks of the season - including Monaco, the legendary F1 circuit, Belgium’s Spa-Francorchamps track, and his home Grand Prix in the Netherlands - Verstappen seems to have taken the stronger position.

The challenge is great for Lewis Hamilton – who has never won from this far behind before. But don’t give up on him just yet. Hamilton was world champion 7 times, and is desperately trying to beat Michael Schumacher’s record – a former German racing driver also in possession of 7 global titles. On the other hand, though Max Verstappen was never titled world champion, he is the youngest racer on a podium, having been integrated in F1 racing when he was only 17 years old.

Will Lewis Hamilton be able to do the impossible and overtake Max Verstappen in time for the big win ? With 18 races down and only 4 to go, strap in tight for this Sunday’s race in São Paulo, before waiting to see where the end of the season and this heated rivalry will take us.

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